BT has finally acquired Securicor’s 40 per cent stake in BTCellnet, the UK’s second largest mobile phone operator, for £3.15bn.
The deal, subject to approval by regulators and Securicor’s shareholders, means BT and BT Cellnet will bid as a single entity for one of the five third-generation mobile phone licences to be auctioned by the Government next year.
Third-generation mobile phones will allow access to the Internet at speeds ten times faster than fixed line phones. They will open the way for new mobile features, including video, broadcasting, and e-mail.
BT had to decide whether to bid for a licence on its own or through BTCellnet. Securicor did not want to fund a licence bid, which will cost about £500m, with a £50m deposit.
BT has always had effective control of BT Cellnet which operates as a division of BT with separate accounting, board and marketing departments. Abbott Mead Vickers.BBDO handles advertising for both companies.
When BT launched Cellnet in 1983 it still held the UK telecoms monopoly and competition concerns forced it to link up with Securicor.